Tour de France (finale)
Movistar Team ends 2014 Grande Boucle in bittersweet mood as Valverde takes 4th overall, just one step short for podium finish in Paris; leads WorldTour team ranking again
PICTURES | 2014 Tour de France gallery
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris saluted today the survivors of the 101st Tour de France, where the commitment and strength of the Movistar Team did not find the coveted reward of getting onto the overall podium. Alejandro Valverde (4th) claimed his best overall result in seven appearances in the Grande Boucle, showing himself more consistent and offensive than ever in France and staying into podium places for eight long stages; yet, his suffering in the Pyrenees and most notably on Saturday, in the long Périgueux TT, left him off target by over one minute.
The Spaniard’s performance -Valverde is now 3rd in the WorldTour, behind Contador (TCS) and Nibali (AST)- takes the Movistar Team -always supporting Alejandro throughout the three weeks of racing, shining individually with Visconti (2nd atop Saint-Lary), Gadret (19th in the GC), Izagirre or an excellent Herrada, in his race debut- into the lead of the 2014 ranking, a classification the Blues already conquered in 2013 and which they will aspire to claim again this year in the end of the season, thanks to their first Grand Tour victory under Telefónica’s sponsorship and Valverde’s great effort.
Alejandro Valverde: “This is sport: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. We fought for the podium until the very last day, which means that we rode super well and did everything we could. It happens many times that everything you work and sacrifice for doesn’t come to fruition. This result is not a failure for me, at all: being 4th in the Tour, my best result… is not easy at all. It might seem like that, but there’s a load of work behind it. What’s really clear after this race is Nibali was really superior; Pinot, Péraud… we were pretty much close in strength to each other, only they were better in the final days.”
Eusebio Unzué: “We really thought that, after losing our podium place in the final Pyrenees stage, yesterday’s stage would have been a great final chance to get back into the top-3. Back on Friday, Alejandro felt really recovered and was really happy about his feelings on the bike all stage. That’s why we all were convinced it could be achieved. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the day he needed to in order to recover that podium, and we came one step short for the goal we’ve come searching for in this Tour. He was fourth after doing everything he could: the team worked their hearts out for it, Alejandro was really great all race, focused, attentive – but on the day of the ‘exam’, he just didn’t perform as brilliantly as we all, included him, would have desired.
“We all need to recover after this. We didn’t achieve the goal, but we still stayed on the step right next to it – a fourth place is not a bad result, it’s a big one in such a race like the Tour de France. We’re just sad because it was a great chance, Alejandro had felt well all over the Tour, bad luck in his TDF career had become good this time… Still, we must not build our reasoning in the heat of the situation: we must analyse everything in a calm way and wait for the next races, which will surely bring us joy. Alejandro himself is pure class: he’ll get back and offer us brilliant moments in the near future.
“We have to give full credit to our rivals, because they did extremely well, as well Nibali as Péraud and Pinot. The Italian was implacable, relentless. He already showed on stage two what he had come for in this race, with his stage win and the yellow jersey, and in those moments where full focus was required, he proved to be the strongest. All success he amassed in the last few years were the construction of a man already mature now, experienced and set to be one of the dominant figures in Grand Tours in the next few years. The French guys – leaving Péraud aside, already 37 – they have a generation of youngsters really brilliant, and now it’s briniging a fruit, starting with Pinot.”